Seven Summits

The seven summits are a mountaineering and exploration challenge to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents first suggested and then completed by Dick Bass in 1985. The seven summits are:- Asia - Mt Everest (8848m), South America - Aconcagua (6962m), North America - Denali (Mt McKinley) (6194m), Africa - Mt Kilimanjaro (5892m), Europe - Mt Elbrus (5642m), Antarctica - Vinson Massif (4892m), Oceania - Puncak Jaya aka Carstensz Pyramid (4884m).

We are specialists of the Seven Summits and offer guided climbs to five of them. The two we do not offer are Denali because the National Park only offers concessions to the American operators, and Vinson which is monopolised by Antarctic Logistics Expeditions. We offer Carstenz Pyramid and Everest more or less as private expeditions, but all the others are annual scheduled trips. 

 

We offer a professional advice service for people wanting to climb the Seven Summits, which includes training, trip preparation and thoughts on equipment. To complete this challenge is an expensive commitment so we want to make sure that potential summiteers are well informed and properly ready. Since we have experience climbing all of the seven summits over many years we are well placed to assist the aspirant climber in how to climb each of them and what kit to buy, and the level of experience and training needed. This level of expertise is part of our service and for many people has been the reason they have remained with Adventure Alternative. 

It's hard to list the peaks in terms of difficulty because of the many factors involved but in terms of just technical difficulty on a good weather day it might be Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Vinson, Aconcagua, Carstenz Pyramid, Denali, Everest. In terms of altitude Everest, even with bottled oxygen, has a huge impact on the body, but equally so Denali can feel like much more than 6000 metres because of its position in the high latitudes. Standing on top of Aconcagua is a significant physical feat; ironically standing on top of Everest breathing oxygen at about 2.5 litres per minute has the net effect of standing at a little over 7000 metres, but of course the length of time at altitude and the sleeping height of the south col at 8100 metres makes it much harder. 

Puncak Jaya or Carstenz is the only peak requiring rock climbing skills and probably vies with Vinson as the most remote of the seven, although Vinson would have to win in terms of sheer distance from any human habitation. To fly onto Antarctica is one of life's great experiences and the climb on the mountain is overwhelming if only for the knowledge of where you are on the planet. The purity of the air is remarkable and the intensity of the cold is something to be reckoned with. 

Elbrus is probably the most underestimated of the seven summits, a snow covered volcano in the south of Russia which is lower than Kilimanjaro. Yet statistically it has the most fatalities, probably due to its temperamental weather, cold and high altitude, and easy access meaning people can climb quickly without acclimatising and without proper equipment. 

Kilimanjaro is the most commonly climbed of all the seven, which in a way makes it the most inspiring because for many people Kilimanjaro is their Everest. It's a wonderful mountain and a big challenge on the summit night walking up to nearly 6000 metres. It tends to attract a wide variety of people from all walks of life keen to feel that elation when you stand on top of a mountain and have the satisfaction of saying "I did it".